Cook praises team after Kolkata victory
Cricket:Alastair Cook believes England’s historic back-to-back Test wins in India are deserved reward for their year of hard work and willingness to learn.
Today’s seven-wicket victory at Eden Gardens put England 2-1 up with just one match to play, and on course for a first series success in India in almost 28 years.
The sustained wicket-taking spells of spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann and reverse-swing seamers James Anderson and Steven Finn are continued demonstration of the skills England’s bowlers have devised and perfected to prosper in the local conditions.
But Cook’s three successive hundreds, culminating in an English record-breaking 23rd, and significant first-innings runs almost throughout the top six in this third Test are a world away from the hapless performances against Pakistan spin with which England began the year in the United Arab Emirates.
The first step, according to England’s new captain, was to recognise there was an issue and then start doing something about it.
Amid the euphoria of the latest victory, albeit achieved after a last-minute wobble when England lost their first three wickets for eight in pursuit of just 41, Cook acknowledged they have trodden a difficult path in the past 12 months.
“We’ve had a tough 2012, but the way we’ve managed to quickly rectify a few of our problems is a credit to our coaching staff and the leadership of (coach) Andy Flower and the players as well,” said Cook.
“The first thing was a realisation of a problem, playing against spin. It probably wasn’t as big as everyone made out. But all of us as a batting unit had to have a look at our technique against spin and work out a method which suits each of us individually.
“We worked our socks off trying to improve our technique. Although we didn’t get immediate results, we are now starting to.”
Cook’s first assignment as permanent Test captain, after the surprise retirement of Andrew Strauss last summer, will now result in a drawn series at worst, and he has every reason to hope for better after the final Test in Nagpur.
If a transitional period had ensued post-Strauss, there would have been obvious mitigation. But it has not, and Cook added: “The way everyone has stuck together under a new captain, I can’t praise them enough.
“It’s been a lot of hard work. I think what we’ve done really is we’ve taken what we’ve been doing in the nets out into the middle, and started to perform close to our potential. That’s what’s happened. That’s why we’ve won these last couple of games.”